U.S. employers add 156,000 jobs in Dec.; wages post biggest rise in 7 years
January 6, 2017 8:38 AM
By Ana Swanson / The Washington Post
WASHINGTON — The U.S. economy added 156,000 new jobs in December, according to government data issued today. The final report issued by the Labor Department during President Barack Obama’s administration showed the unemployment rate at 4.7 percent, slightly up from 4.6 percent the previous month.
Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had expected American companies to add 180,000 jobs in the month.
December marks the 75th straight month of job growth - the most extended streak the country has seen since 1939.
The number of new jobs added each month has gradually slowed as the economy recovers from the depths of the recession, from average monthly gains of 251,000 in 2014 to 229,000 in 2015 and 180,000 in the first 11 months of 2016. However, that’s still far above the level of new jobs needed to keep up with population growth, economists say.
“We’d expect the rate of job growth to slow as the recovery matures and we get back to where unemployment is likely to remain longer term,” said Jed Kolko, chief economist at job search site Indeed.
President-elect Donald Trump inherits an economy that is relatively healthy, though economists caution that some industries and regions of the country continue to lag behind in the recovery. Trump has pledged to boost the U.S. economy by reducing regulations and corporate taxes, boosting infrastructure spending, and reviving America’s manufacturing sector.
Signs of a strengthening economy persuaded the U.S. Federal Reserve to vote unanimously in December to raise their benchmark interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point, the first such increase in a year.
In its December meeting, Fed officials did not mention Trump by name, but they clearly discussed the potential economic impact of his impending presidency. Minutes of the meeting released in early January cited Fed officials as saying that they may need to lift rates faster in the future if changes in government spending cause inflation to rise by more than expected, likely referring to Trump’s promise to boost infrastructure spending.
“We’re operating under a cloud of uncertainty at the moment, and we have to wait and see what changes occur and factor those into our decision-making as we gain more clarity,” Fed Chair Janet Yellen said in a news conference.